Sunday, January 21, 2018
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According to results from a quick data assessment report on blind prevention from 2016, 2.8% of Timorese people over the age of 50 suffers from some type of eye disease.

According to results from a quick data assessment report on blind prevention from 2016, 2.8% of Timorese people over the age of 50 suffers from some type of eye disease.

Researcher and Doctor Marcelino Correia said the survey was conducted to determine the extent of vision problems across the country and to serve as a baseline for the government to establish an integrated eye health plan.

He added the most common types of eye disease affecting the Timorese are cataracts, glaucoma, corneal opacity and that these conditions can lead to blindness unless treated early.

"The study establishes a baseline for the ministry of health to improve its eye health program in Timor-Leste both in terms of human resources and equipment," he said at Hotel Timor, in Dili.

Dr Correira added there are several causes that affect sight including advanced age which cause blurred vision, accidents involving the eyes and complications resulting from diabetes.

He urged the community to conduct routine eye checks at health facilities because maintaining the health of the eyes is very important.

The study identified at least 3,350 Timorese living in rural areas suffering from different types of sight disease.

Meanwhile, Director for Cooperation of the Health Ministry Dr Narcisio Fernandes said the research undertaken was very important so the health ministry to develop control and prevention programs on eye disease across the country.

He acknowledged limited human resources in Timor-Leste are hampering the provision of adequate eye health care.

"The ministry of health faces shortage of human resources in eye health. We have to provide more training,” said Dr Fernandes.

He added the ministry will use data from the research to develop an integrated and comprehensive strategic plan on eye health across the country.

Director General of the National Hospital Guido Valadares (HNGV) Jose Antonio Guterres called on development partners to continue to support the hospital with human resources in the eye field because Timor-Leste only has one eye specialist.

"We need more or less 10 ophthalmologists and sub-specialists for the treatment of cataracts, glaucoma, retina disease; therefore, I am not shy in asking for their support," he said.

He said in 2017, the national hospital intends to send two doctors to study in Nepal and become eye specialists.

Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Timor-Leste, Dr Rajesh Pandav said WHO will continue to support he government to develop its strategic plan for eye healthcare.

"The World Health Organization has the commitment to support Timor-Leste government and will work together to improve eye healthcare," he said.

He added WHO also supports the government with children eye screening in schools for early prevention.

The research undertaken in the health of eyes of Timor-Leste was conducted nationwide and received technical and financial support international LIONS organization, South East Asia IAPB and WHO.

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